Mitchell Bland is right: my letter on the biodiversity of Mount Canobolas did not consider the impacts of mountain biking, as it was not meant to be a formal environmental impact assessment.
That may come later if the project gets off the ground and would be a very large and complex exercise, as Mitchell would know.
My objective was to provide the facts about the very high biodiversity value of the State Conservation Area to support my preference that it should not be developed for intensive mountain biking.
I wrote my letter because I was concerned that an understanding of the uniqueness of the biodiversity on the mountain was missing from the debate.
My conclusion is that Mount Canobolas SCA is not just another conservation area; it stands out as being exceptional.
We need to draw a line somewhere about what is acceptable in nature conservation areas and what is not.- Colin Bower
So much so, that it has been considered internally within the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as worthy of status as a National Park.
It has been denied National Park status owing to the possibility that significant Cadia-like mineral deposits occur below the volcanic cover.
Mitchell and others (e.g. Will Ferguson, letters CWD) call for ‘the right balance between protection of the environment and using land in a manner that benefits us all’.
Seems hard to argue with, but application of this approach would ultimately, over time, see the whittling away of the mountain for one development after another until the place is literally loved to death.
In a real sense the mountain bike proposal is the thin edge of the wedge and follows on from numerous other development schemes for the mountain over the years, including a restaurant, chair lift, ski runs and others.
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There are very few nature conservation areas around Orange and none are large enough to comfortably embrace an extra 50,000 visitors a year and 63 kilometres of competition bike runs without serious impacts.
Other mountain biking complexes in sensitive areas are generally hosted in very much larger reserves where the overall impacts are much smaller.
We need to draw a line somewhere about what is acceptable in nature conservation areas and what is not.
Not every bit of public bushland should be exploited to the hilt, especially one as small and as important for conservation as Mount Canobolas.
In my view it is time to leave Mount Canobolas and its biodiversity in peace.
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